Working out on a heavy bag is a great way to get exercise and relieve stress. Punching a bag may seem simple, and if you are in reasonable shape you can put some power behind a punch. However, if you do not have the proper punching mechanics, all that power will not be properly transferred to the target (ie: the bag). In fact, all that power may just end up breaking your wrist.
There are a few details involved in throwing an effective punch—stance, rotation, distance—but today we will focus on the point of contact. Start with making a fist. As per Bruce Lee one way to make a strong fist is to “…from an outspread position of your fingers and thumb, as in Photo A, roll your finger tips into your palm, as in Photos B and C. Then overlap your thumb tightly over your clenched fingers. The tip of the thumb extends to the center of your middle finger, as in Photo D.”
While it is not difficult to learn to make a fist, the only way to learn how to punch is to actually hit something with it. The most important thing is to start with everything relaxed (shoulder, arm, hand) and to form a fist at the last possible moment. When starting out, it is best not to TRY to hit with power, but to focus on developing and establishing good form. If the form is off, the force of the impact will cause the wrist to bend or twist to one side. Another good check is to see if the top two knuckles are redder than the others. If not, then some adjustments are required. As Sensei Gleason often reminds us, the power will come when the mind and the body are ready.
Those who remember the formula F=MA from high school physics will not be surprised that one does not have to be strong to punch effectively. F=MA tells us that the force (F) of a punch is a combination of the mass (M) behind the punch and how quickly it was thrown (A) (for acceleration). So a small person weighing only a 100 lbs can hit with a lot of force if they can throw a punch very fast, put some weight behind the punch, or better yet, do both. We will have more to say about how to do just that in a future article. For now, we’ll just focus on not hurting ourselves 🙂